Humpday News Chum

Lunchtime on Humpday. The time to empty the link collection…

  • The Importance of Humor. Roger Ebert is getting his voice back, and he’s testing it by telling jokes. Actually, this is a serious article on how Ebert is using an electronic device to regain his voice, using snippets of his actual voice collected from innumerable broadcasts. Yes, he is testing it by telling jokes: “If the computer can successfully tell a joke, and do the timing and delivery, as well as Henny Youngman, then that’s the voice I want,” he says.
  • Saving the House. Two historical houses from literature are in the news. From London, there is an effort in progress to save the workhouse made famous in Oliver Twist. On the other hand, the Sands Point NY home that was the inspiration for “Lands End” in The Great Gatsby appears doomed.
  • Finding Good Mechanics. For those that don’t avail themselves of Car Talk’s automotive files, the AAA has always been a good alternative. However, did you know that AAA charges the mechanics an annual fee to be inspected and listed? This, of course, means that those mechanics that don’t want to pay don’t get listed. On the plus side, only about a third of shops that inquire about approval end up submitting paperwork… and of those, only 30% pass the rigorous inspection process. Further, unlike the Better Business Bureau, which can be aggressive in pushing certification on businesses, AAA waits for repair shops to apply for approval. News you can use, indeed.
  • Kitchen Science. The NY Times has a review of what may be the ultimate in kitchen science books: the six-volume “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking”. From the review: “As scientific as it is gastronomic, it is virtually an encyclopedia of cooking, a visual roller coaster through the world of food and cooking tools, as well as a compendium of 1,500 recipes.” Looks like fascinating reading, but I guess for most people, it would sit on the shelf. Further, with the price ($625 ($467.62 online)), I expect few would buy. I think I’ll stick with “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
  • ETA: Missed one… Putting a Stamp on Things. It looks like Sweden may be getting rid of postage stamps, and replacing them with text messages. Specifically, the Swedish postal service, Posten AB, is looking to launch a system wherein letter and package senders pay for postage using their mobile phones. Swedes would send a text message that would bounce back with a code. The code would be written down in place of a stamp as proof of payment. Personally, I think this could be a pain if you had a lot of mail to send (just imagine trying to do it for a bunch of wedding invitations… oh right… no one sends those anymore, they just use Facebook).